General practice services

Your local general practice team is the main point of contact for general healthcare for NHS Scotland, and is there to support you with getting the right kind of care.

General Practitioners (GPs) are highly skilled doctors who support patients throughout their lives. They work as part of a general practice team of professionals to help you to manage your health and wellbeing.

Your general practice team is the first point of contact if you:

  • have an urgent care need
  • have had an injury
  • have an illness that does not improve with self-treatment
  • are worried about your health
  • have an ongoing health condition

General practice teams will have confidential access to your past medical history. 

They also provide the link to further health services and work closely with other health and social care workers.

Who can use GP services?

You can attend your local NHS Scotland GP practice if you are registered with a GP practice in Scotland or if you live in Scotland.

Who will I see?

When you phone, practice staff will ask you for some general information and help you to decide who the best person is for you to see or speak to.

For some injuries and illnesses, it may be necessary to speak to a doctor, however there are other clinical experts that work in general practice who can help you, including:

  • general practice nurses
  • pharmacists
  • community mental health nurses
  • district nurses
  • health visitors
  • learning disability nurses
  • physiotherapists
  • occupational therapists
  • paramedics
  • other specialist professionals

How do I use the service?

In most cases, you need to book an appointment ahead of time to speak to a member of your general practice team.

Appointments can be made online through some practice websites or by phoning the practice directly.

Before you contact your general practice team, you should consider whether you can manage your condition safely yourself by getting self-care advice from:

Always make sure you have enough repeat prescription medication and basic remedies at home.

Your local GP or a trained member of the practice team will give you advice and provide medicine if needed. They may need to refer you to another healthcare professional such as your dentist, optometrist or another NHS service if they feel your condition needs further investigation or specialist care.

GP services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

NHS Scotland is working hard to balance the health needs of patients against the risk of coronavirus transmission.

When making an appointment, you must:

  • contact your GP team by phone or online whenever possible
  • tell the staff if you, or someone that you live with, are displaying any coronavirus or other breathing symptoms. (This is the same whether you have had a test or not)

Do not turn up at the practice without an appointment.

Phone and video appointments

Many general practice appointments are now carried out over the phone or through NHS Near Me - a secure and easy way to video call a health professional using your computer, tablet or mobile phone.

Telephone and Near Me appointments may not be suitable for everything and everyone, and there may be a need to see a member of the team in person for a physical examination or if tests need to be carried out. The practice team will discuss this with you to help you decide which is the best option for you.

If you are unable to use these technologies, please let your general practice team know. Your practice team will be able to help you make sure you get the right kind of appointment for you.

Role of the receptionist

When you phone your local general practice team you will normally speak to a receptionist. They can provide basic information on services, test results and can direct you to the right person, depending on your health issue or query.

Reception teams do not make clinical decisions, but they have had training to help patients get to the most appropriate service.

When making an appointment, they will need to know:

  • your name
  • your address
  • your date of birth
  • your contact details

This is to ensure they know they are talking to the right person. This also ensures that if they need to call you back for any reason, they have got the information they need to do that.

Receptionists need to have an outline of the reason you are calling. This means you might need to share some of your own health information.

Everyone who provides an NHS service is bound to keep your private health information confidential, including the reception team. You don't need to share very detailed information but you could think before you call about how you might describe your symptoms to a friend.

Practice receptionists, patient advisors and care co-ordinators all have an important role in supporting you to access the care you need. The information you give to this team helps the GP or other healthcare professional to plan their workload for the day, so that patients in the greatest need are dealt with first.

Reception teams are there to help, please treat them with courtesy.

Where is my local GP practice?

Find your local GP practice

Use Scotland's Service Directory to find your local GP practice.

GP practices

What if I’m unhappy with the service I have received from a GP?

Talk to your GP or GP practice manager so they can try to sort the matter out immediately.

If you can’t do this, or if you have already spoken to your GP and are still unhappy, you can contact the feedback and complaints team at your local NHS health board.

Last updated:
13 December 2021

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